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'calculated dishonesty' Former principal jailed over €204,000 theft from school removed from teaching register

In 2008, Fionbar Ó Baoill (41) cancelled school meals for kids at the school claiming a grant had been stopped, keeping the money for himself


Fionbar Ó Baoill

Fionbar Ó Baoill

Fionbar Ó Baoill

A former school principal jailed for the theft of €204,000 from his school has been removed from the teaching register following a fitness-to-teach inquiry.

Fionbar Ó Baoill (41), of Ballybofey, Co Donegal was the former principal of St Patrick’s National School, Kilnaleck, Co Cavan.

Mr Ó Baoill, also known as Finbar Boyle, has been struck from the register and banned from teaching for a minimum period of 15 years following the Teaching Council's disciplinary inquiry.

Mr Ó Baoill had pleaded guilty to five counts of theft and two counts of forgery while principal at St Patrick’s, a 70-student primary school in Kilnaleck, Co Cavan between 2007 and 2012.

He was initially handed a suspended two-year sentence, on the condition he repaid €25,000 in March 2018.

However, in May 2019, on foot of an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), he was sentenced to 15 months and taken into custody.

The disciplinary panel, chaired by Paul Moroney, found that Mr Ó Baoill was guilty of “prolonged, elaborate and calculated dishonesty for the purpose of enriching himself to the inevitable detriment of the school and its children.”

The panel found Mr Ó Baoill’s actions were “a total betrayal” of the core ethical values of trust and integrity that underpin the standards of teaching.

The panel found the aggravating factors that led to their decision were; the seriousness of the offences and the large sums of money stolen, misapplied and misappropriated; the premeditated nature of the crimes; the length of time the pattern of behaviour continued for; the significant adverse effect Mr Ó Baoill’s actions had on both the physical and educational welfare of the children in the school.

Chairman of the panel Paul Moroney said all of Mr Ó Baoill’s offending “breached the trust of the pupils, colleagues, parents, school management and the public.”

“To maintain public confidence in the teaching profession requires a sanction that will send a clear message to the public, and teachers including Mr Ó Baoill that such wrongdoing on the part of a teacher can never be accepted or excused by the Teaching Council,” Mr Moroney said.

“The panels view is that the matter we have considered demonstrates that as of now Mr Ó Baoill is not fit to teach.

“These considerations have led the panel to conclude that removal from the register is the only proportionate, fair and appropriate sanction.”

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The disciplinary hearing was heard virtually yesterday, Mr Ó Baoill was not present or represented at the hearing.

For the director of the Teaching Council, Conor Feeney BL told the panel multiple efforts to contact Mr Ó Baoill via letter, email and telephone had been ignored.

In his submissions to the panel, Mr Feeney said Mr Ó Baoill’s crimes “were of a very serious nature.”

“Mr Ó Baoill extracted in the region of €73k from the public purse which was meant for the provision of school lunches.

“Then through various means, he used €130k roughly of the school's money.”

During the criminal proceedings against Ó Baoill, the court heard he spent the money on golfing trips, weekend breaks in London, Dublin and Galway.

He also bought clothes and golf equipment, and lessons.

He also used some of the money to pay his mortgage and household bills.

The court heard that in 2008, he cancelled school meals for kids at the small rural mixed primary, claiming a grant from the Department of Social Protection had been stopped.

In fact, the school was still receiving the grant – and Boyle was keeping the money for himself.

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